Andrew Martin

Journalist and novelist Andrew Martin is the author of the 'Jim Stringer' series of novels based around railways. He has written for the Independent on Sunday, the Evening Standard, the Sunday Times and the New Statesman among others.

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Let's love all those tennis racquets languishing in the attic

Or perhaps it's just the kind of thing you expect to see up there, like parrot cages, golf bags and empty picture frames
Pope Francis has dismissed the five Italians who oversaw the Vatican's financial watchdog

It seems that some national caricatures are allowable... if they're complimentary

In the wake of a scandal, Pope Francis has dismissed the five Italians who oversaw the Vatican's financial watchdog, replacing them with a new board comprising only one Italian. Announcing the news on the Today programme James Naughtie put a subtle yet distinct emphasis on the word "Italians". He then interviewed the BBC's revered, earnest Rome correspondent, Alan Johnston, about the story. "They," Naughtie repeated, in reference to the five Italians, "were all Italian, and the replacements were not all Italian." If Johnston was considering saying, "We seem to be lumbering towards a national caricature here,"... he avoided the impulse. Instead, he coyly remarked, "Yes … interesting to note the nationalities involved." Still time to retreat from the brink? Apparently not. "It's part of this effort we're seeing," said Mr Johnston, "to break with this Italian business culture… which can be less than transparent."

From sausages to fish pie, a 30-year journey

On average, we eat five evening meals at home every week

The kindness of strangers: a highly charged issue

Last week, the European Parliament voted that, from 2017, all mobile phone chargers must be compatible with all mobile phones. It's as though the MEPs had been to our house, and inspected the boxful of old chargers, some Tipp-Exed with the initials of one son, some with the initials of another. One simply has a question mark. It is as if the MEPs had also joined me when, a few years back, I took the boys on a camping holiday to Cornwall. Leaving London, I realised I had forgotten my charger. The holiday lasted a week, and I spent three days of it driving around trying to buy a replacement. The shopkeepers would frown, "You're after a Nokia charger, you say?" After a while it became hard to keep the bitterness out of my voice as I replied, "Yes. Nokia. The largest manufacturer of mobile phones in the world."

David Bowie has been a virtuoso of fame since the early Seventies

The cool were at the Brits. The ultra-cool weren't

Some people – like David Bowie with his non-appearance at the awards – just know what they can get away with. Unfortunately some don't

According to Ofcom, we’ve rediscovered watching TV in the living room – but it’s not what it was

The main TV holds forth as priest in the pulpit, while the smaller devices provide additional solace to the media worshippers in place of prayer books or rosary beads

Then and now: Mick Jagger in the 60s, the 80s, and today

Mick, quite happy being Mick. Wouldn't you be?

With another Rolling Stones tour about to begin, Andrew Martin reflects on the Jagger charisma and wonders how nothing bad ever seems to stick to him

Oscar Pistorius awaits the verdict on his bail hearing on Friday

The baffling case of murder most irresistible

The compelling case of Oscar Pistorius makes Andrew Martin ask himself why he bothers writing murder stories when the real thing is so effortlessly sensational

Tickets, please: Commuting in 1939 was good for newspaper sales

When taking the train was a sign of prosperity

The trendy sneer at suburbia and espouse only city living. But we are pretty much all commuters now, whatever the cost

Dear, oh dear: Tony Hancock in his Hancock’s Half Hour series captured the boredom of life 50 years ago

The joys of boredom!

Modern life is so full of distractions, there's a risk we never get beyond the surface. Andrew Martin admits a bit of tedium can put the good things into proportion

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Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...